Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: August 25 2015

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It's time for Planet Rugby's weekly round-up of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're on fire!

Frédéric Michalak: He often divides opinion but Michalak is now France's all-time top points scorer with 394. His Test career of 13 years, nine months and five days is also longer than any other Frenchman. He was excellent against England, control the game with precious kicking and very good decision making.  

Danny Cipriani: 17 minutes of brilliance. Cipriani came on and changed the game in Paris for England, who flourished with two ball players in their backline. George Ford and Cipriani interchanged nicely as instead of the predictable crash ball which the French had defended with ease, England had them stretched and hanging on. France did win but so did Cipriani from a personal view. Whether he makes the 31 is another matter.

France: While they weren't the best at Twickenham, this was a much-improved performance from France. They were solid at the set-piece, lively wide out with their back-three while Sébastien Tillous-Borde and Michalak directed them well. Plenty of positives for their debrief.

Japan: Japan brought their four-game losing streak to an end on Saturday, thrashing fellow World Cup participants Uruguay 30-8 in Fukuoka.

Christian Wade: Wasps flyer Christian Wade broke the Premiership Sevens record for the most tries in one meeting on Friday at the Ricoh Arena. The unwanted England international ended with seven tries in total, passing the record of six previously held by Dan Bibby and Ian Clark.

Paul Jedrasiak: The early weeks of the Top 14 should see a number of young players get their chance. Clermont lock Jedrasiak had already broken through last season and started the Top 14 final. He began this year in stunning fashion, finishing off one length-of-the-field try against La Rochelle, while also popping up all over the pitch. On this kind of form he must surely be part of Guy Novès' first French squad next February.

Israel Dagg and Magpies backs: Hawke's Bay were impressive as they brushed Otago aside, winning 39-22 at Forsyth Barr Stadium to go one point clear of Wellington in the ITM Cup Championship. Israel Dagg was included at full-back as he looked to make a late push for World Cup selection and he couldn't have done much more, scoring three tries. Alongside him, Ihaia West and Richard Buckman were strong as was flank Tony Lamborn.

Racing 92, Clermont and Toulouse: Both Racing and Toulon were missing World Cup personnel at Stade Mayol for the Top 14 opener but the Parisians handled it better, with their come-from-behind 27-22 win stunning the European champions. Chris Masoe returned to haunt Toulon on debut for Racing as he scored a key try on 66 minutes to make it 24-19. Elsewhere, Clermont and Toulouse breezed past La Rochelle and Brive.

Blue Bulls and Golden Lions: After three rounds of Currie Cup action, these two teams are the only unbeaten sides in the competition and both have secured bonus point victories in each of their matches. The Bulls are at the top of the table by virtue of a better points difference.


Broken thermostat:

Scotland: It's been a long wait for Scotland to wake up on a Sunday morning knowing they have a win under the belt. While it wasn't a great game or an impressive performance, the Scots will walk away pleased after their 16-12 win over Italy. Plenty of room for improvements though.

Philippe Saint-André: All credit to the France coach for his team's performance on Saturday. Les Bleus outplayed England in their best performance in ages. We were less impressed on Sunday, however, as the omission of François Trinh-Duc from PSA's World Cup squad was met with storm of criticism on social media. From many people, Trinh-Duc is France's best attacking fly-half and leaving him at home in favour of taking four options at scrum-half (including Michalak) seems harsh. 


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

England: Although they launched a brave fightback during the latter stages of their defeat to France, Stuart Lancaster's troops conceded too many penalties in the first half of that clash. England's indiscipline meant Frédéric Michalak was given goal-kicking practise and he made the visitors pay as he slotted five penalties to give les Bleus a 15-6 lead at half-time.

Nic White's omission: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has taken a risk in not picking three hookers and scrum-halves but possibly his 31-player squad's biggest surprise was his decision to leave out Nic White. Will Genia and Nick Phipps are the two number nines and on form that call to pick them ahead of White was a shock, so much so that the former sent a message to White saying he felt embarrassed to take his spot.

Taranaki: Although they have been tight defeats, two losses from two to open up their ITM Cup title defence is hardly ideal for the 'Naki. On Sunday they fell at Auckland, conceding four tries in the process, but should however get a victory on the board at home to Otago next weekend.

Canada: Their 41-23 defeat to USA was their third straight loss to their near neighbours and seventh in all matches. With the Rugby World Cup just weeks away, Canada need any form of win to their name before the tournament. Next they face Glasgow before tacking on Fiji and Georgia.

Western Province: After leading bitter rivals the Blue Bulls by 11 points on 50 minutes, WP collapsed at Loftus Versfeld, conceding four tries to go down 47-29 in a meltdwon coach John Dobson labelled as "an embarrassment". Only a last-gasp ankle tap saved their blushed against the Cheetahs last week, they will hope for better in Bloemfontein on Friday.   

EP Kings and Griquas: Winless after three rounds, these two are set for a wooden spoon battle in the Currie Cup. The Griquas already have a points difference of -70! At least the Kings have picked up two bonus points, but a defeat at home to the Pumas suggests they in for a long season.

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